February 24, 2020

I’m sad all the time!

Hey Brandon,

I want to feel happy. But deep down I feel sad, depressed and anxious all the time. Whenever someone asks how I’m doing and I say I’m fine, I’m lying. Which makes me feel even worse! Please help.

Down And Out

Dear Down And Out,

First of all, thanks for sharing how you feel and asking for help. That’s really brave.

Let’s talk about the difference between sadness and depression.

Sadness is a normal emotion felt in response to something that happens—a fight with a friend, a lost dog, or a sick grandparent. Sadness goes away over time, and it usually gets better when you let it out, like by crying or talking to someone about it.

Depression, on the other hand, is a chemical thing that happens in the brain, and it can make you feel sad without a bad event happening to you. Things in your life can look AWESOME to other people and you can still feel depressed. It doesn’t get better over time without help. Some signs of depression include: overwhelming hopelessness and sadness, loss of interest in stuff you enjoy, overeating or not eating enough, and insomnia (which means you have a hard time falling asleep). You also have trouble concentrating or making decisions.

You mentioned anxiety, so let’s define that too: Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, worry, or fear about something that’s going to happen or could happen. It’s a normal human reaction to specific events, like being anxious about a test or a doctor’s appointment. But when your worrying interferes with your life (like you skip class to avoid the test, or you don’t go to the doctor even though you’re sick), then you might need your parents or a counselor’s help.

Sometimes people who are depressed think that if they just tried a little harder, they could feel better. But depression is something that just happens in your brain, like dizzy spells. You can’t try hard enough to stop fainting. Instead, you’d go to the doctor. Same thing with depression.

I understand why you tell people you’re fine and you try to act happy. You probably don’t want to bring people down. You don’t want to worry your parents. You might feel like if you just say you’re happy enough times, you will be.

But you’re not going to feel better until something changes. Talk to your parents. They’ll probably suggest you see your doctor. Your doctor might suggest a counselor, or they might make other suggestions.

Also, try to exercise, eat nutritious food, and get enough sleep. These aren’t cures for depression, but they’ll help your body while you work on feeling better.

What makes you sad? Have you ever been depressed? How did things get better for you? Tell us in the comments.